Have you ever found it hard to concentrate? Do you keep distracting yourself from what you’re trying to do? Have you ever had it where random thoughts leap into your head and take your mind off what you were thinking about?
Often when helping people I find it hard to keep them focused on a question I asked or the issue at hand. I have often seen people distract themselves or trip up their thinking by sideline issues that seem to come rushing into their mind.
When I see that happen I realise the person is likely being attacked by Saboteur Thoughts, thrown into their mind by the enemy to keep them from thinking clearly and dealing effectively with their issues.
There’s a saying that goes, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. What’s funny about that is how easy it is to run off onto sidetracks or tangents of marginal issues.
I have had the privilege of being on a number of committees over the years, at a community and professional level. It becomes very frustrating in those situations when someone brings up a red herring or sideline issue that abducts the focus of the group and wastes precious time. I have seen whole meetings abandoned because of such disruption.
Even among professional people it is not uncommon for someone to want to hold the floor for a while about their favourite subject, or just to be the centre of attention for a time.
Committees usually have a purpose and an agenda to follow. So being dragged into sideline issues stops the committee achieving its purpose.
Similarly in your life, there are things that are important, among many other things that have no great significance. If the enemy can create in you a pattern of distraction and staying away from important things then your life will bog down in insignificant things.
I remember many years ago that when I took time to read and study the Bible or to pray about things, I would very likely find myself completely distracted by random musings. I would end up wasting the time I set aside for spiritual discipline. I would also find myself getting drowsy and struggling to concentrate. However, as soon as I decided to give up and do something else I felt alert and awake.
I eventually realised that pattern and decided to actively pray against the enemy keeping me from spiritual things. I quickly found myself able to study the Bible and pray for extended time, without the old pattern of tiredness or distraction.
Think of it like a football match where you are keen to get to the ball. The other team, however, keeps running interference, tripping you up, blocking you or pushing you off course. All those distracting thoughts that rush into your mind while you are trying to explain something or think something through are like players on the other team, rushing at you to keep you from getting where you are heading.
The mind can be a battleground and an arena of competing and compounding thoughts that crash into each other without anyone around hearing the struggle. That’s why at times people come out with the most unexpected things, or maybe take a course of action no-one knew they were thinking about. It can also be why some people struggle to answer questions or to define their own thoughts.
When I first started working with Chinese people I was struck by having to wait for answers to quite ordinary questions. In time I figured out the problem and asked if I was right. My Chinese friends agreed that their culture was so full of protocol that they had to think carefully about how they responded to people. Since I was a Pastor I was to be treated with respect, but at the same time I was ignorant of Chinese cultural considerations so I was likely crashing over their sensibilities in a way they struggled with. While I waited, a little impatiently, for them to respond to a question, their mind was racing through all the filters to find out the appropriate way to answer. Once friendships developed those cultural barriers were overcome, but that experience alerted me to the kind of mind-muddle some people have to live with.
I have also seen people whose emotions storm into their thinking and trip them up. This is specially so if I am trying to help them work through an issue that has high emotional value, such as broken relationships. The person will start to give me an explanation, but then pause, feeling some emotional wave sweeping over them. They then focus on those feelings and lose track of what they had started to say.
The Bible recognises our mind-muddle and mind battle issues and speaks specifically about taking thoughts captive, virtually catching them with a rope and holding them down.
“Taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” 2Corinthians 10:5
God has given Christians authority to use the name of Jesus when battling the enemy and his strategies. A lifetime of muddled thinking and distracting thoughts can be transformed when we learn to take thoughts prisoner and gain control over them. We can keep ourselves on target and on topic, and we can dispel those thoughts and emotions sent against us to run interference.
If you suffer from the problem of Saboteur Thoughts then use a prayer like the one I am about to share with you to block the invaders and to keep your heart and mind on track.
“In the precious and powerful name of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ I take authority over those thoughts, emotions and invasions into my heart and mind that keep me from being focused or distract me from what is best for me. I bind the enemy strategy of distraction and invasion and I take all the thoughts that come against me as captives, and I make them bow the knee to Jesus. I choose to be led by the Spirit of Almighty God, and to think the thoughts of God, and to follow the wisdom of God, according to the Word of God, so I reject and break the power of all distractions and interference that might stop me doing those things. I declare this in Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.”
May you quickly become the champion over all those Saboteur Thoughts.